Google has become another social media tool that allows its Google Plus clients to use something other than their real name. These aliases or pseudonyms can be a nickname or just a series of letters. When Google launched their social tool a few years back, they wanted people to build a network based on people with real names. They recently ditched this idea in their terms of service in favor of a growing trend for any creative ID to act as a name similar to those used on Twitter and Youtube. However, there are limits to how many times a user can change their name in a given period of time.
If authenticity is so important online, why would a business person want to use an alias?
- Get greater separation between personal and online life. Despite popular practices, not everything should be shared online. Many business people have opinions that they want to post that should not be associated with their business (and for good reasons).
- Prevent stalkers. There are a lot of weird and predatory people surfing the Internet. An alias gives more privacy which is a difficult commodity in an Internet connected world. It provides a barrier to actually meeting these crazy people in real life. Any pseudonym can be deleted and recreated in a different form at any time.
- Prevents work colleagues on viewing personal work or opinions online. Personal views may conflict with business employees or customers. It allows this body of work new opinions posted under an alias not to be viewed through the filter of a real known person.
- Aliases bring a new start. Anyone can create an online alter ego. This can be an outlet for creativity and exploration. Different personas can also cover a variety of niche areas without conflict.
Be careful. There are drawbacks of an alias which include:
- Adds stress to life. Constantly mentally separating to be an alias can be time consuming. This is especially true if it becomes more popular than the real life version of the person.
- The temptation of less accountability. Hiding behind an alias will tempt many business people to say and do things that they would not with their real identities. This can cause real life regret. Caution should still be used because no one should assume that an alias will never be connected to the real person.
- More conflicts. People may be put off when they find you are the alias for a pseudonym that they despise. Steve Colbert says he is playing a character on The Colbert Report and has a difficult time being viewed as himself.
- Changing perceptions. Once an alias becomes well established, it's hard to transfer that online capital to a real person. When Amber Osborne wanted to come out from behind her alias "blue haired Miss Destructo " persona, there were many challenges. Some people did not want to view her as anything else except her alias. Think about the stereotyping of actors for certain roles like William Shatner as the iconic Captain Kirk and James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano.
Have you created a personal alias separate from the business? What has been the results?